Friday, 19 October 2012

How to Advance the Rule of Law (Hint: Outside the UN)

At the United Nations, support for the rule of law has the aura of mom’s apple pie: Everybody loves it. Unfortunately, consensus ends there. UN member states can’t agree on how to define it, much less how to advance it globally. It’s unsurprising, then, that last week’s “High-Level UN Meeting on the Rule of Law” (perhaps you missed it?) was a bust. The meeting’s final declaration was a festival of empty blather, even by UN standards. And that is a wasted opportunity. For as my friend and colleague Mark Lagon points out in a just released policy innovation memorandum from the Council on Foreign Relations, improving the rule of law worldwide may be the critical step in improving prospects for human dignity and prosperity in the twenty-first century.  The lesson of the last week is that this effort can’t be left to the United Nations.

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